For All You Pros: How to Lift a Wheelbarrow Into Your Truck Even if You’re a Wimpy Girl Like Me (An Article in Pictures)

Since we’ve been discussing mulching, I thought this tip might be helpful for those of you who are mulching for other people, like me! I don’t know about ya’ll, but for a long time there, I was risking life and limb getting my dratted wheelbarrow up into my truck to take to clients’ homes on days when we were mulching.  Wheelbarrows are heavy! Maybe you are a pro like me, or maybe you just want to store your wheelbarrow on a table or shelf. Here’s how to lift your wheelbarrow safely, without using any real strength. [Read more...]

Gardening Basics: How to Apply Mulch

We’ve talked about why a thick layer of mulch, composty soil, and good watering habits are important if you want to garden more organically; it’s all about giving your plants a foundation of good health so that pest problems will be few and far between. Today we’ll talk specifically about mulch: what it is, what type to use, how to apply it, and why mulching is the single most important thing you can do to improve the health of your plants and reduce maintenance time:
Mini fir bark chips used in the garden
Mini fir bark chips used as mulch
Mulching is when you add a layer of wood chips, chipped bark, shredded leaves, or other material to the top of your soil without mixing it in, so that it will hold down weeds, hold moisture in the soil, and contribute positively to your soil over time.

Why mulching is so over-the-top awesome for your garden:

  • A 3” thick layer of mulch will reduce the weeds that come up by 75% or more overnight – it is the single best organic weed control out there. Clients who don’t have mulch are shocked at the difference after we put down a good layer of wood mulch – it smothers the weed seeds that try to sprout from the soil below.
  • It helps your soil hold onto moisture so that you needn’t water so often.
  • It also keeps your soil from getting so compacted when you step on it to maintain your garden, and keeps hard rains and hot sun from forming a crust on your soil’s surface.
  • It keeps plants’ roots cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • It helps support the beneficial micro-organisms and worm populations that keep your soil aerated and help change the existing nutrients in your soil into a form your plants can use.
  • It can help keep some soil-borne bacterial diseases from harming delicate, over-bred plants like many roses.
  • In some cases, mulch can help with erosion control.
For all these reasons, if you want a low-maintenance garden with happy, healthy plants, mulching is the number-one thing you can do to have an immediate, dramatic impact on the time you spend weeding, and the overall happiness of your plants. [Read more...]

Gardening Basics: How to Amend Soil

We’ve talked about why composty soil, good watering habits, and a thick layer of mulch are important if you want to garden more organically; it’s all about giving your plants a foundation of good health so that pest problems will be few and far between. Today we’ll talk about how to know whether you need to add compost to your soil, how much to add, and how to mix it in: Rich soil makes for happy plants Most people have some idea of whether their soil leans towards sand, clay or loam. You can find out what soil type you have here, but for our purposes, it really isn’t important. The main thing to know is that adding compost will help any kind of soil. Got clay? Compost will help the tiny clay particles bind together in larger crumbs that allow for better drainage and less of that sticky clumping. Got sand? Compost will help it hold moisture. If you’re lucky enough to have that in-between loam, then compost will do a bit of both and help your plants stay happy and balanced in their soil home. [Read more...]

Soil, Water, and Mulch: The Three Key Steps to a Healthy Organic Garden

As a professional landscaper, I get to see and diagnose a lot of garden issues. I find many people at wits’ end, spraying for pest problems and dealing with unhappy plants. Most of the time, the pest problem or grumpy plant shouldn’t be looked at as the problem itself – more accurately, they are symptoms of a bigger issue in the garden. [Read more...]

Radius GroundHog Rake: A Review in Photos

A client recently gifted me with this fantastic new tool, and I wanted to share it with you all, because I could tell within a few minutes of use that it was going to replace my old-school iron bow rake. Radius Garden Shark RakeShe had both the GroundHog and the Garden Shark rakes, and offered me  my choice. The Garden Shark is billed as the rake to choose for dethatching your lawn and for smoothing mulch on garden beds, and its tines are curved under to better hold the material you are raking. Radius GroundHog RakeThe GroundHog is supposed to be better for cleanup tasks like raking wet leaves and small bits of brush. I thought the huge tines on it looked like they’d suit me fine for spreading mulch and compost, so I chose the orange GroundHog and was off to test it out! I had a truckload of shredded redwood, which is about the least fun mulch to spread, because it mats together and is heavy to move. Give me a nice light load of fir bark chips any day. Radius Ground Hog Rake in use [Read more...]